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This technique originated in the US in the 1960s.
Charrette involves an intensive on-site consultation process with a community, usually preceded by a massive public relations campaign.
The goal is to develop social, economic and physical plans combining the resources of a number of local groups, integrated as a prioritized action program.
The resource people (consultants, experts, professionals), usually out-of-towners, bring fresh minds to the problems. The Charrette building must accommodate large evening forums and small group discussions during the day as well as secretarial services, the press, television, child care, lunch and light meals. It becomes a ‘live-in, work-in, 24-hour facility’.
A charrette typically proceeds in stages:
- A large public relations campaign (often including a questionnaire and several pre-Charrette workshops to give the community a chance to discuss the problem and to introduce it to the dynamics of Charrette.
- Introductory speeches
- Split into sub-groups
- Sub-group brainstorms, to help build key relationships and to identify community objectives and goals.
- Sub-groups explored possible solutions to agreed issues, with public and private officials being available to discuss the impact of resource limitations and political climate, and to establish responsibility and accountability.
- A detailed implementation strategy and action plan was then produced, with models, drawings, reports, graphics, etc.
- The final proposals were presented before top-ranking officials, the media and the whole community, in a climate of strong community commitment.
- A report was produced so that anyone could discover what happened. Local newspapers, TV and radio were usually closely involved.